A Public Health Assessment is generally prepared to describe the findings of an assessment that focuses on one particular public health question (e.g., a specific exposure pathway, substance, health condition, or technical interpretation). For example: Will community members be harmed by drinking water from private wells around the site? Is a proposed site-specific sampling plan adequate to collect data to use in a public health evaluation? Such assessments often are more time critical, necessitating a more rapid and therefore limited response than other assessments that result in a full assessment
The public health assessment process involves multiple steps but consists of two primary technical components. One is the exposure evaluation, and; two the health effects evaluation. These two components lead to making conclusions and recommendations and identifying specific and appropriate public health actions to prevent harmful exposures. supporting environmental health
At the end of the assessment process, Seneca Scientific Solutions+ will prepare a report that summarizes the approach, results, conclusions, and recommendations.
A PHA may be prepared to address various exposure situations and/or community health concerns. It may address multiple-chemical, multiple-pathway exposures or it may address a single exposure pathway.
As stated earlier, during the public health assessment process, you will not only evaluate whether a site poses a public health hazard, but also identify public health actions. Actions may be recommended at any appropriate point in the assessment process. Some recommended actions may be initiated before the completion of the assessment such as certain health education activities or efforts to obtain additional exposure data. Other actions may begin during the assessment process but end after the release of the assessment for a site (e.g., health studies or research). Community involvement continues to be important as you identify and communicate public health actions.
Public health actions vary from site to site and may include:
Actions to reduce exposures. If current harmful exposures are identified, removal or clean-up actions may be recommended. This will generally involve working with the appropriate federal, state, or tribal agencies.
Exposure investigations. As part of your exposure evaluation, you may determine that critical exposure data are missing. In such cases, the site team may recommend environmental or biologic sampling to better define the extent of harmful exposures.
Health education. Throughout the public health assessment process, you may identify the need for education within a community. The local health department may educate health professionals about special diagnostic techniques for possible site-related illnesses identified during the public health assessment process.
Site conditions may identify the need for certain community health interventions, such as medical monitoring or psychological stress counseling. Referrals may be made to health care providers (e.g., community health centers or local health departments) when health services are needed that may improve the overall health of the community.
Public health assessments are not epidemiologic or health studies. However, during the public health assessment process, you may identify an exposed population for whom a site-specific epidemiologic or health study should be considered (e.g., disease- and symptom-prevalence studies, cluster investigations). An epidemiologist should be involved with evaluating the need and feasibility of any such study.
Research. Knowledge gaps that you identify concerning the toxicity of substances identified at a site or release under review may trigger substance-specific research, computational toxicology, or expanded efforts in developing a toxicological profile.